Real Property

This summary also appears under Tax

 

Issues: Whether the petitioners were entitled to refunds of the transfer tax they paid pursuant to the State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act (SRETTA) when they sold their homes based on the exemption under MCL 207.526(u); Statutory interpretation; McAuley v. General Motors Corp.; Whitman v. City of Burton; Sun Valley Foods Co. v. Ward; Apsey v. Memorial Hosp.; "Respectful consideration" of the Tax Tribunal's (TT) interpretation of a statute; In re Rovas Complaint; Reading statutory language in context; G C Timmis & Co. v. Guardian Alarm Co.; In pari materia statutes; State Treasurer v. Schuster; General Property Tax Act; MCL 211.27(1); "True cash value" (TCV) and "fair market value"; CAF Inv. Co. v. State Tax Comm'n; "Value" defined (MCL 207.522(g)); Wolfe-Haddad Estate v. Oakland Cnty.; Equal and uniform assessment of property at 50% of its TCV; Fairplains Twp. v. Montcalm Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs; Emmet Cnty. v. State Tax Comm'n; Validity of assessment; Alhi Dev. Co. v. Orion Twp.; Principle that tax exemption statutes "are to be strictly construed in favor of the taxing unit"; Ladies Literary Club v. Grand Rapids; Effect of Attorney General opinions; Frey v. Department of Mgmt. & Budget; Construction of tax exemptions; Michigan Baptist Homes & Dev. Co. v. Ann Arbor; Detroit v. Detroit Commercial Coll.; Burden of proving entitlement to an exemption; Elias Bros. Rests., Inc. v. Treasury Dep't; ProMed Healthcare v. Kalamazoo; Department of Treasury (DOT); "State equalized value" (SEV)

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)

Case Name: Gardner v. Department of Treasury

e-Journal Number: 58025

Judge(s): Cavanagh and Stephens; Dissent - Owens

 

Holding that the TT erred in awarding refunds of the transfer tax that the petitioners-Gardners, Ngos, and Masellis paid pursuant to the SRETTA when they sold their homes, on the ground that the conveyances were exempt under MCL 207.526(u), the court reversed the TT's ruling. The respondent-DOT denied petitioners' requests for a refund for the transfer tax they paid upon selling their homes, concluding that they were not entitled to the exemption because each property sold for more than its TCV. On appeal, the court agreed with the DOT that the TT erred when it determined that each of the conveyances were exempt from transfer tax because petitioners sold their properties for more than the TCV. It concluded that the TT "erred as a matter of law by concluding that MCL 207.526(u) was rendered ambiguous when its two sentences were considered together." The statute was not ambiguous - the word "value" and the phrase TCV have clear meanings. It found that, "if petitioners sold their properties for more than or less than the [TCV] of their properties, i.e., the value of the SEV doubled, the transfer tax was properly paid and they were not entitled to a refund." It then concluded that none of the petitioners met their burden. The Gardners sold their property for $875,000, although its TCV was $749,600 (the SEV of $374,800 multiplied by 2), and thus they "were not entitled to a refund" of the transfer tax they paid. The Ngos sold their property for $464,000, although its TCV was $439,720 (the SEV of $219,860 multiplied by 2), and thus they also "were not entitled to a refund" of the transfer tax they paid. Finally, the Masellis sold their property for $470,000, although its TCV was $397,060 (the SEV of $198,530 multiplied by 2), and thus they "were not entitled to a refund" of the transfer tax they paid.

 

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